How to buy an ethical engagement ring

07 Nov 2017

Learn how to select a cruelty-free, ethical engagement ring without compromising on style

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Image gallery

The focal point of a traditional engagement ring is almost always a diamond, and the high level of demand for the stone has - in some instances - sadly led to poverty, human rights abuses, and environmental damage around the world. It’s ironic that the gem traditionally given to express our love has become the source of so much conflict and injustice.

The good news is that there are now plenty of options for ethically minded brides. Here, Paul Mentessi - a gemmologist with Est.1897 - shares his top tips on how to make a statement with your engagement ring without compromising on style. 

Choose a unique gem

Diamonds haven’t always been the norm for an engagement ring. In fact, the gems have only been associated with engagement rings since the 1930s, when a clever piece of marketing by diamond retailer De Beers popularised the gemstone and made a diamond engagement ring a must-have item.

You can break the diamond monopoly by picking a less conventional gem for your engagement ring. Sapphires, emeralds, tanzanite and morganite are all much less likely to be conflict gems, and will look just a beautiful as the traditional diamond. Not only will your ring be cruelty free, but you’ll also stand apart from the crowd with a unique ring.


Buy pre-owned jewellery

Rather than buying a new ring from scratch, you could instead choose a pre-owned engagement ring. This means you can still opt for a design featuring diamonds or gold, but you won’t be directly funding the industries or the abuses they encourage. Many pre-owned pieces of jewellery are nearly new, so you should be able to find plenty of modern designs which feature diamonds or gold without worrying about the consequences.

Find ethical metals

While the focal point of an engagement ring is often the stone, don’t forget the precious metals. It’s not just diamonds that can be a cause for concern, the gold mining industry is also notorious for unfair employment practices and environmentally damaging extraction methods. You can find more information about the effects of gold at Smithsonian Magazine.


Instead of the traditional gold, look for rings made of less sought-after materials. Silver, titanium, rhodium, palladium and even aluminium are all gorgeous alternatives to the traditional gold, meaning your ring will be even more individual, as well as eco-friendly. 

Try lab-grown diamonds

If you’re still keen on the idea of a custom diamond engagement ring but don’t want it to cost the earth, then why not consider a synthetic diamond? Gems are produced using machines which condense carbon into diamonds using extreme heat and pressure, meaning there’s no exploitation of workers or environmental damage. The resulting synthetic gemstones have all the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, and will look just as good on your finger.

Don't forget the finishing touch

Present and store your ring in a box made from an ecologically sustainable wood. A wooden box not only looks impressive, but will last much longer than a plastic box and can be kept as a keepsake for your engagement.

For a personal, romantic touch, have your wooden ring box engraved with your names, or the date of your engagement.  This box is made from long-lasting oak, and can be engraved with a custom message or date; find it here on YewleafWishes Etsy shop


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